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When Sally (Charlotte Greenwood) and Eve (Leila Hyams) take a vacation together to make their rich husbands miss them, the boys (Reginald Denny and Harry Stubbs) promptly invite over two gold digging actresses (Lilian Bonds and Merna Kennedy) for an after hours "audition." But when the girls return expectedly and catch the lads in the act, they clean out their bank accounts, pick up two lugs (Cliff Edwards and Kane Richmond) and proceed to teach their spouses a lesson. Based on a play by Elmer Harris (Johnny Belinda) and co-adapted by the author himself, Stepping Out stars zany second banana Charlotte Greenwood in a rare, top-billed performance. Renowned for her legendary high-kick, Greenwood performs the long-legged shtick that made her famous as well as a charming duet with fellow vaudevillian Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, who later gained screen immortality as the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Written by
Pre-Code Programmer with the Unique "Lady Long Legs!"
Here's a sprightly romantic comedy from MGM featuring elastic funny lady Charlotte Greenwood and pretty Leila Hyams. She gets top-billing playing one of two disgruntled Hollywood wives seeking revenge on their movie-producer husbands. Seems that the straying spouses, played by portly Harry Stubbs and dashing Reginald Denny respectively, have canceled their plans for an evening out with their wives. Under pressure from Stubbs, the reluctant Denny agrees to cavort with two beautiful starlets who hope to appear in their next picture.
So as payback, the disappointed but defiant wives decide to head to Mexico for some fun and games of chance. But they soon return home for a forgotten item, only to discover their husbands hosting a ribald pool party for the aspiring actresses. One of these starlets (Lillian Bond) goes by the rhyming stage name of "Cleo Del Rio," and the other has a penchant for piggy-back-riding. After being discovered, Denny's squirming and dissembling before his wife and this actress is amusing and nicely played by the actor with a usually unflappable persona.
Greenwood and Hyams continue on to Mexico anyway, with the added baggage of their husband's entire bank accounts, causing the desperate men to quickly follow. Complications ensue as the women flirt with a couple of flat-broke college guys (Cliff Edwards and handsome Kane Richmond) who are on the make, and suspect the women are wealthy. Comic mayhem ensues when the husbands surprise their wives as they entertain the other men for dinner in their Mexican bungalow.
There's lots of confusion and calamity as the two couples come to grips with the situation, and some expert physical comedy is on display by Greenwood and Edwards, who plays perhaps one of the most mature and balding college guys ever. There's even a nice little duet, with Edwards accompanying Greenwood on -what else -- the ukulele. And of course, it's de rigueur that Charlotte Greenwood display her signature brand of crazy-legged comedy schtick that still seems amazing and remarkable today.
"Stepping Out" contains a few funny and risqué lines of dialog, a likable cast, and some amusing situations, but fails to rise to the level of the great comedy produced by, say, The Marx Brothers or Burns and Allen. Experienced vaudevillian Charlotte Greenwood makes an unique screen presence, and she pulls out all the stops to make this somewhat slight material work. She's gangly and homely, yet with a sophisticated and fashionable exterior that creates a strikingly comic dichotomy.
Charmingly innocent by today's standards, "Stepping Out" at least offers the opportunity to experience veteran entertainers like Charlotte Greenwood and Cliff Edwards performing routines that made them famous.
** out of *****
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